The Royal Air Force announced via its Twitter account that P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft will be known as the ‘Poseidon MRA Mk.1’ in UK service.

It was also announced recently that when the first Royal Air Force P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft arrives at RAF Lossiemouth it will be ready to fly with a UK crew on day one thanks in part to a team of RAF personnel embedded with the US Navy, say the Royal Air Force.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland is home to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 (VX-1), a US Navy unit which has within its ranks eight RAF personnel supporting the P-8A test programme.

Squadron Leader John Ryder is one of two RAF pilots serving on the squadron. He said:

“We’re fully embedded in the P-8A Test and Evaluation process, which drives incremental improvements and updates to the USN’s frontline fleet.

Specifically we’re focussed on Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E),  a process mandated by the US Congress. During OT&E we assess the aircraft’s effectiveness and suitability for operations but we also assist with Developmental Test & Evaluation, which verifies that technical performance specifications have been met.  Therefore, since 2012 VX-1’s RAF team have been a core component in making a state of the art aircraft even more capable. 

Consequently, by the time the UK’s first aircraft leaves the Boeing production line, it’s going to be an extremely versatile and well proven platform.”

The Squadron is also responsible for developing tactics according to the RAF website, an experience the RAF personnel will bring back to the UK. Sqn Ldr Ryder:

“I flew numerous anti-submarine warfare serials on P-8A from Scotland during Exercise Joint Warrior in 2012 and the aircraft did the business. From that point onward, P-8A has only got better.

More importantly we’re going to have current, proficient and experienced RAF personnel ready to operate a UK flagged P-8A the moment we get it. In fact, US Seedcorn has achieved more than 15,000 hours on the aircraft already, with many operators having over 1000 hours each.”


  1. I know people are worried that we won’t have enough to go around but with these and a couple of Type 26’s in UK waters that’s a pretty potent combo isn’t it?

  2. well Peter, I would sleep easier at night if I thought we had strength in depth, which we most certainly have not.

  3. The planned co located US Navy P8’s will go someway towards making up the shortfall.

    Not ideal, but better than nothing.

  4. What about all the other new platforms that have yet to receive a UK designation – Lightning, Rivet Joint, Globemaster

    • I’ve seen an article somewhere stating they will carry US torpedo’s. I think they just come with everything the US version comes with to keep the cost down.

    • Answer to parliamentaey question given by Guto Bebb 21 May 2018
      “At the time of introduction into service the P-8A will be fitted for and equipped with Harpoon Air to Surface missiles as well as Mk 54 torpedoes. These weapons are used by all P-8 Poseidon Nations and provide us with a robust route to capability employment, and ensure commonality with our major Allies. Once we have reached the full operating capability of the aircraft and have had time to study the optimal employment model for the UK, the Department will be in a position to make decisions on future weapon configurations, including alternative weapons.”

  5. (Chris H) RAF crews rotating through the P-8A Test and Evaluation Squadron have proved to be the best of the best in that field. In 2014 a 100% RAF crewed aircraft won the annual MR competition…

    • Well the UK has the experience no one doubts that.

      It’s the tools our lads and lasses will use which concerns.

  6. I would have preferred if we could have standardised on a single airframe – ideally an airbus platform with a reasonable amount of work going to British employees.

    Perhaps the UK could have taken the lead on developing a militarised A330 or similar, which we could have appropriated as our standard airframe and which would certainly have had export potential.

    Just a thought.

    • It totally makes sense to me….MPA, AEW, ISTAR as well as MRTT of course.
      When the Rivet Joints were built, did the Americans have any of the types of issue we had with Nimrod MRA4 rebuild where the airframe is so old and each one is quite unique – seems that would be typical for aircraft built in the 60s

      • Definitely a lost opportunity BAe owned a good chunk of airbus back when the Nimrod was selected too so I don’t understand why they didn’t want to partner up. France will need to replace their maritime patrol aircraft in the near future too so you’d think they could have come together and agreed something.

        • The Large Aircraft Replacement Programme (LARP) was scrapped in the 80s by the MOD Treasury officials and the politicians even though the MOD Air Staff after months of studies recommended it instead of persevering with the Nimrod upgrade. It contained all the proposals made in the above comments and would have answered 21st century Large aircraft requirements without relying on the USA. But of course the Treasury military experts and the politicians always know how to spend money and receive nothing in return.

  7. I posted a few months ago that in my opinion the UK should have chosen the Japanese P1 aircraft because of it better flying characteristic with reference to the MRA role, larger weapons bay and the opportunity the P1 offered the UK to customize the Japanese airframe for UK specific equipment and roles such as AWACs’, Sentinel and other intelligence gathering roles. The P1 is newer than the P8 and was designed from ground up for MRA and intelligence gathering role by the Japanese. The P8 on the other hand is a 50 plus year old design converted airliner and has all the problems associated with such a program – poor loitering performance that calls for higher altitudes versus the P1. P1 has better avionics (fly by light for example), that allows for better future developments on a plug and play basis. If I had a say, I would stop the P8 acquisition at 8 and turn to the P1 for additional MRA in the future and the AWAC and Sentinel replacement airframes. Just my 2 cents worth.

  8. I would think that having 2 different airframes in what would me a very small total inventory of MRA planes, and by extension yet another ISTAR type in the RAF fleet would be a non-starter.

  9. Good Day!

    Perhaps an admittance that the 9 RAF Poseidon’s are not sufficient in numbers to take up the task! Once again our American friends are helping us to protect our own interests! How embarrassing HM Government .

    • (Chris H) Nick Paton – and you think the Yanks are doing this out of the kindness of their heart? That they are sending the aircraft, crews and maintenance teams just to be ‘good mates’ with the UK? And would they even do what they are doing if we hadn’t also spent some £3.2 Bn with the USA?

      No they are doing it for three reasons – it serves THEIR foreign policy and defence strategies and it supports US Incorporated. They could just as easily upsticks and move to somewhere else if it suited them.

  10. I imagine we will end up with more than 9 as it will also act as an ISTAR asset. We know the sentinels are due to retire in the near future replacing with P8 would end up being cost effective and give us a more flexible fleet.

    • i suspect your half right. The sentinels will be replaced by the p8 but not with extra air frames but with the 9 already on order. Almost certainly another stealth in capability incoming when they announce the p8 does the job more effectively and so less frames are needed.

      • The optimist in me hopes this will not be the case and we get 4-5 more P8s to replace sentinel. The realist thinks your right. Pragmatically we may get a couple more in the future to cover ISTAR requirements.

  11. Afternoon all
    The Mk1 naming convention is important, I will come back to that.
    Whilst it is not the number of aircraft that everyone wants (remember the RAF wanted 21 originally) or within the timeframe required (FOC 2012) what we have seen, again, is common sense from operational planners in making sure that when ever the aircraft arrived it would arrive as an operational platform ready for tasking on day 1. You only need to look at the F-35, yes it has arrived and is flying in the U.K. but it’s not operational (F-35 has also been very well planned for operations by the RAF and RN).
    We have also signed up to an agreement with the Norwegian Air Force (expect Canada to follow) and we are receiving £60m of direct US investment in RAF Lossiemouth which means they will station aircraft there.
    So whilst the numbers are low on the U.K. platform side of things a capability is being created at a U.K. airbase which will become (as RAF Kinross was in the 90’s) a centre of ASW excellence – this cannot be a bad thing.
    Mk1 – baseline operational model
    Mk2 – full U.K. sovereign operational platform


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